Monday, 9 February 2009

Christie's sale of the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge

The Christie's sale in Paris of Yves Saint Laurent and Piere Berge's collection contains a small range of carpets by two of the leading twentieth century designers, Ivan da Silva Bruhns and Ernest Boiceau.

Lot 349 Ivan da Silva Bruhns (1881-1980), 200cm x 160cm (78" x 63")

Here is an example of carpet with a minimalist design based on thin bands placed on a beige background. This carpet belongs to a set of at least twenty rugs and carpets that were ordered by the Maharaja of Indore, Yeswant Rao Holkar Bahadur, to furnish his palace, Manik Bagh. The palace had been decorated throughout with the latest in European Art Deco furnishings.

The decoration of the palace was overseen by the German architect Eckart Muthesius from 1930 to 1933. Major artists and designers from France, Germany and Britain contributed to the project.

Da Silva Bruhns was the major supplier of carpets and rugs. This particular carpet was one of the smallest that he designed for the palace. Interestingly, compared to many of da Silva's rugs that bare his name, this one does not carry the monogram of the designers workshop 'MS' which stood for 'Manufacture de Savigny'. This implies that the rug may well have been woven elsewhere, perhaps at Aubusson or in another Parisian workshop. This may have happened because the order for the Maharaja's palace was such a large one, that da Silva's own workshop did not have room to weave all of the carpets on site. This often happened if workshops were overbooked.

Lot 328 Ivan da Silva Bruhns (1881-1980), 940cm x 410cm (370" x 161")

This carpet, in contrast to the previous, is huge in scale. It is possibly the largest carpet ever produced by da Silva's workshop.

The design is inspired by Pre-Columbian Central American motifs, which he used regularly in his design work. All the symbols that he used seem to represent a magical or mysterious language that tries to communicate with the original tribal culture. It is as if da Silva wanted to find the original roots of the culture, through their motifs.

Aside from the size of the carpet, the composition of the design has little in common with other Aztec inspired design work of the period. the design is symmetrical, with a composition consisting of five elements repeated twice. There is no central medallion, but there is a large border that is a transposition of a Classical Greek motif, which is quite rare to find in da Silva's design work.

the classical aspect of this design could possibly have been a compromise worked out by da Silva with the original commissioner of the carpet, a compromise that he was willing to accept in order not to lose the lucrative commission for this oversized carpet.

Because of its size, there were very few rooms in which the carpet would have sat comfortably. For example, the average Parisian apartment would have been much too small as the carpet needed at least a minimum floor measurement of 550cm x 1080cm. But the room would also have had to have had a high ceiling to offset the carpets dark background. the weight was also a factor because for a carpet containing 38.54 square metres, with one metre weighing roughly 4kg to 5kg, the whole carpet would weigh around 160kg to 180kg. In fact, the carpet had to be reinforced to resist the tension caused by the size and weight of the carpet.

The carpet was probably commissioned by either an institution, or ordered by a company for a conference room, or even possibly an ocean liner, and could have been in collaboration with Leleu, as he was regularly commissioned to deal with large orders such as these.

Lot 278 Ernest Boiceau (1881-1950)

Ernest Boiceau was a rug designer who created his own individual technique called 'Point de Cornelly' which is based on embroidery, which was a speciality of Boiceau.

Boiceau did not have a particularly distinctive design style as he produced commission work purely for a small selective clientele. His designs were varied and could include geometrical, classical, minimalist or traditional motifs.

This particular carpet is a complex design composed of birds of differing sizes. it was probably produced round about 1927, and was once in the gallery of the Parisian dealer Philippe Eric.

Boiceau has about thirty different carpet designs accredited to his name. They are now extremely rare and highly collectible. Boiceau also produced a number of designed pieces of furniture.

The Christie's sale will be held in Paris on February 23-25.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha


Jennifer le Roux said...

this one is so breathtaking!! I love it.

John hopper said...

Thanks very much for your comment Jennifer. We hope to be posting here on a much more regular basis very soon.